Alleged Fraudster Made a Really Poor Font Choice

Fonts released in 2017 used in documents with older dates
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 16, 2019 9:35 AM CST
Alleged Fraudster Foiled by 'Font Detective'
Should've gone with Times New Roman.   (Getty Images/CobraCZ)

If Cambria and Calibri sound to you like a crime-fighting duo, you're not entirely off. Actually Microsoft fonts, they're responsible for exposing an alleged fraud scheme in Canada, where Gerald McGoey's company, Look Communications, went bankrupt at the end of 2017. Ordered to repay $5.6 million to creditors, the former CEO sought to protect two properties—an Ontario farm purchased for $635,000 in 2003, and a cottage bought for $700,000 in 1994—with signed declarations claiming they were held in trust by his wife and three children, and therefore safe from the courts. The problem was that the farm declaration, dated 2004, was written in Calibri, while the cottage declaration, dated 1995, was written in Cambria. Per Ars Technica, Cambria was designed no earlier than 2004, while Calibri was designed between 2002 and 2004; both only became widely available in 2007.

While McGoey's lawyers suggested the family was only mistaken about the dates the documents were signed, "the conclusion that the ... trusts are shams is unavoidable," Ontario Superior Court Justice Michael Penny wrote in a decision earlier this month, based in part on evidence from a self-described "font detective." Thomas Phinney told the court that no one but a Microsoft employee or contractor could've had access to Calibri in March 2004, as it was widely released in Microsoft's Office 2007, per the National Post. According to the outlet, "had McGoey used Times New Roman, a popular default Microsoft font prior to 2007, it's possible his ruse would never have been discovered." The same might be said of the daughter of the prime minister of Pakistan, who allegedly forged a trust deed dated 2006 using the Calibri font. (More on that here.)

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